“Julia Grant, who began life as ************, and who has died aged 64, changed the way Britain viewed transgender people in the 1970s.
She was the first ‘transsexual’, as trans people were then called, publicly to share her story on television. In five hour-long film documentaries, which I directed, and which were transmitted as the BBC2 series A Change of Sex, her story gripped the nation, with nearly nine million viewers watching the first episode, George and Julia, in 1979. The films, intimate, frank and observational, were shown between then and 1999, as new episodes unfolded in her story.
The series followed her challenging attempts to become Julia in the unflinching glare of the cameras. Before this, the world of transgender people had been shadowy, due to ignorance, prejudice and abuse. There was little thought given to allowing them their legitimate aspirations or a choice to live openly as themselves. In her lifetime, Julia saw the transgender community expand and gain acceptance beyond all expectations, a change helped by her own activism for greater understanding and better treatment…”